"How an American With a Knack for Math Saved India From Famine"

"Lester Brown has spent his career making shrewd projections about the food, water, and energy people need to survive, and pushing governments to respond. None of this math brings tears to his eyes except the time in 1965 he made some calculations and risked his career advising the president of the United States to save India from starving.

Brown's eyes misted over as the 81-year-old resource economist recalled the reaction of a U.S. agriculture attache in New Delhi to his discovery that famine was imminent in India that autumn. Few saw it coming, he warned the attache, and the U.S. would have to take extraordinary measures, transporting millions of tons of grain, to prevent mass suffering and death.

'If you're right, it's the biggest shipment ever,' the man told Brown, then 31, in New Delhi. 'But if you're wrong, you're going to be a statistical clerk the rest of your life.'"

Eric Roston reports for Bloomberg May 19, 2015.

Source: Bloomberg, 05/21/2015